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Toh sik
[DVD]

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Velvety camera work, an eerie soundtrack and S&M its all in a days work for specialist Chinese director Yonfan, who has over three decades worth of contemporary cinema under his belt. What a pity that only now have I experienced the talents of this gifted individual. His latest opus, Colour Blossoms, revolves around five sexually charged characters and illustrates the tension when their lives intertwine with each other.

Meili (Teresa Cheung) is a HK estate agent who has been given the elaborate task of renting out Madam Umekis gorgeous apartment. However the owner will only rent it out to a tenant who is truly special. Along comes a Japanese photographer named Kim (played by model Sho), who instantly draws Meili into a world of lust and seduction. As if one handsome man is not enough in her life, Meili also begins to tease police officer 4708 (Carl Ng). The tension reaches a climax as the fifth character is introduced - a mysterious dominating woman who plans to keep Kim for herself. However nothing is as it seems; the apartment carries a burden that Meili is completely unaware of but is destined to discover.

Colour Blossoms is a remarkably abstract film, expressing raw emotion and temptation as opposed to an explicit storyline. Everything from the plot structure to the directors choice of editing highlights this fact. Upon initial inspection, the film appears to be a detailed character study of a woman exploring her desires for the first time. On the contrary, Yonfan manipulates the viewer by establishing supernatural and melodramatic elements to create an unusual erotic hybrid. As a result of the unconventional subject matter, Colour Blossoms is vulnerable to not being taken seriously and subsequent mockery. However, mature members of the audience should be able to sit back and appreciate the artistic merit of what Yonfan is trying to portray.

The film displays various ideas of lust and desire but the underlying theme of everlasting love is predominant throughout the movie. Each character represents a piece of the bigger picture 4708 frustratingly longs for a love that he knows he cannot have. Conversely, Madam Umeki reminisces over a previous passionate affair, yet still she is unhappy. The S&M scenes become a metaphor for pure love withstanding immeasurable pain and sacrifice.

Teresa Cheung is no stranger to the HK media but Colour Blossoms marks her acting debut. Cheung has started her movie career on a peak by delivering such an uncompromising performance. It is almost as if Meili was trapped inside a monotonous character and has only just been granted freedom. In addition, Teresa Cheung is undeniably attractive and has got a lovely set of curves at the right places. Astonishingly, the actress has passed the 40 year mark. Therefore, to have such a wonderful figure and to look so adorable at that age is truly amazing.

Veteran Japanese actress Keiko Matsuzaka transforms into the ecstatically camp, over-the-top drama queen, Madam Umeki, whose presence is always filled with glamour and instantly lights up the scene. Real life South Korean transsexual Ha Ri-su also plays an important role in the film. Ri-su has continually claimed that she is unashamed of who she is, which is precisely the reason Yonfan hired such a confident and persistent actress.

It is worth mentioning how Carl Ng handled the difficult task of playing officer 4708, someone who has no lines and relies on body language to communicate to the other characters, as well as the audience. His facial expression, eye contact and the way he touches inanimate objects are fine examples of non-verbal acting. 4708s torment is never made implicit, the viewer is fully aware of what he is going through simply by Ngs body movements. He manoeuvres elegantly with a stern look on his face; his cold stares are fixated upon Meili at all times.

As the title suggests, Colour Blossoms quite often relies on colours and exquisite cinematography to spark a romance with the audience. The shades are carefully selected to adapt with the relating costumes and background objects. A prime example would be the introduction of Ha Ri-sus character; the screen lights up with a powerful blue pallet. The camera movement is quite often very slow and off-axis. Many frames are in fact tilted to provide an unsure dreamlike mood. Furthermore, Yonfan enjoys following the characters to provide a feeling of voyeurism, which is very much in line with certain chapters of the movie. Consequently, the camera pursues the stars incredibly smoothly thanks to some splendid steady-cam work.

Colour Blossoms is a pleasure to listen to as much as it is to watch. Yonfan travelled to India to seek out one of Bollywoods greatest composers, Surender Sodhi, who has provided scores for over eighty titles. The music is authentically Indian in style but has been revamped to include synthesisers and other electronic elements. The results include wonderful sonnets and ballads that are slow but dynamic enough to emphasise the onscreen actions. A few chapters also have some poetry recited and turned into songs one such poem is recited by a deep voiced narrator, who almost sounds like he is describing a 70s porn movie.

Retrospectively, the film has a unique multi-Asian vibe, employing actresses from HK, Japan and South Korea, featuring cinematography from China and music from India. In order to handle production of this magnitude, it would be expected that Yonfan equally creates a larger than life film. Colour Blossoms is perhaps slightly over-amplified in terms of content, which may lead to confusion and unintentional humour. The lives of these five individuals interact in their own private little world, so there are certain aspects of the film that are difficult to comprehend. However as long as the audience understands the meaning of pure love, pain and sacrifice then Yonfan can rest assured that his messages have been acknowledged. Ultimately, Colour Blossoms makes a refreshing change from all the idols infested, CGI-heavy, totally unfunny rubbish that is being exported from HK these days.
Date Added: 04/30/2013 by Irakli Okruashvili
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